1866-11-14: Queen Takes Knight - The Parade
Queen Takes Knight - The Parade
Summary: The grand day has arrived and begins with the parade to the Cathedral at Sunsreach
Date: 1866-11-14
Related: Queen Takes Knight - Wedded and Queen Takes Knight - The Wedding Feast
Players:
Adrienne  Aidric  Alaina  Darren  Devlin  Graham  Jaren  Martyn  Quentyn  Raelyn  Randall  Rodrigo  Royce  Thaddeus  

And a huge pile of NPCS


Dawn breaks over the city of Sunsreach, and the morning light reveals a city that is already very much up and moving. Being one of the Edge’s largest cities, Sunsreach is always a busy place, but today…today is different. Near every baker in the city has been hard at work through the night preparing and cooking wedding pies to hand out to the people. Tavern owners have prepared their best stocks and readied their establishments for the celebrations that will no doubt ensue this evening. The population of the city has swollen near to bursting with the influx of visitors, noble and common alike, and yet despite the crowding, violence and trouble has actually been fairly minimal, with the City Guard, who has been preparing for this day under their Durante overseers for over a year now, quickly and efficiently handling those incidents which have cropped up.

Most notable of all those is the tension in the air…not of fearful anticipation, but of eagerness. Already crowds have gathered along the grand thoroughfare that leads from the Eastern Gates of Sunsreach to the Cathedral, and many of those who stand nearest the street have been waiting for hours, but show little sign of dampened spirits. Indeed, aside from those whose work demands they be elsewhere, it would seem as though the entire city and then some has turned out to bear witness to the parade. To watch a little slice of history that they can tell their children and grandchildren about in years and decades to come.

“I was there” they’ll say, “When the Rose Queen married the champion.” Just as some older folk used to speak of the wedding of Then-Prince Stefan Tracano and Princess Katerine l’Valdan decades ago, though that particular joining grew less popular after many years of war.

Still, the energy that seems to suffuse the city will seem familiar to those that might remember the early, happier days of that particular royal couple. Sunsreach feels alive, perhaps in a way it hasn’t since the near-loss of House Farrant at the onset of the Thirty Years’ war. Certainly, it has had moments of hope and levity since…but not quite like this. Peace with Couviere seems a possibility, and the Thorns that had plagued the Kingdom for so long seem finally and truly defeated. Many of the people seem to be looking to this as a new beginning…and who knows? They might actually be right.

This is not to say, however, that optimism has outweighed prudence. The sharp-eyed that might look upwards along the parade route might well notice bow-wielding women upon several of the rooftops, as Huntresses keep a sharp eye out for any that might think this a fine opportunity to snipe the Queen’s Champion or those other prestigious individuals that will be participating in the triumphal entry. The Tracano House Guard and the Sunsreach City Guard are both out in force, doing much the same for the ground level that the Huntresses do at rooftop-level. Wardens of Seaguard mingle among the crowds unnoticed (and have been keeping their eyes and ears open for the past few weeks for any inklings of plot or treachery), but no less vigilant than their more obvious counterparts. Security is, in other words, tight…but not in ways that feel constricting, though the press of the crowds is a greater danger in inspiring that feeling than the security in place.

Right on schedule, just as dawn’s light fully illuminates the eastern gate of Sunsreach, horns call out, blasting a fanfare that serves to both announce the beginning of the Parade, and the arrival of the Champion. The fanfare is answered by a second, return call from another group of trumpeters deeper in the city. And then, the Parade begins as the first formations begin to march through the gates.

The first riders through the gate are given to both pragmatism and ceremony, as a trio of black-armored Royal Lancers leads the way, quite familiar to each other if not necessarily to the crowds. Sir Royce Haldis, Sir Quentyn Bazan, and Sir Alaina Cassomir provide the “honor guard,” as the former two are among the survivors of the Succession War that served alongside the Champion during those years, and the latter is his Cousin. It would seem they have been granted a temporary absence from their respective duties for this very purpose. Though their collective mien speaks of high spirits, their purpose is as much keeping the path clear as leading the way.

Behind the Lancers is a line of drummers, keeping up a steady, rhythmic beat to help keep the forward portion of the Parade in step. The pace is unhurried. It will, all told, be a fairly long trek to the Cathedral, but that is as much by design as geography. The Queen wants as many of her people as possible to bear witness to this procession, it seems.

A short distance behind the drummers comes the perhaps-unusual pair of Prince Martyn Tracano and Lord Devlin Cassomir, both with their gleaming full-plate thoroughly polished for the day’s events, and beside each of them riding with their respective squires, with Martyn’s bearing the banner of House Tracano, and Devlin’s that of House Cassomir. Both men occasionally acknowledge the crowds as they go, while also maintaining a bit of conversation between themselves, though as the sounds of cheering rise, such conversations become considerably more difficult for not just them, but all the marchers in the parade.

Following the Prince and the Champion’s sibling and former squire, comes the Champion himself, clad in his gold-trimmed Lancer’s armor, with matched barding upon his warhorse. A wreath of laurel rests on his brow, marking him as the “guest of honor” and for once instead of the dark green cloak of a Royal Lancer, he instead wears the Blue and red of House Cassomir. The champion is flanked by Duke Darren Haldis and Lord Thaddeus Greycen, the Duke of Eastfield and the heir to Stoneshield. While certainly they are not nearly so jovial as the trio of Lancers that led the parade, their conversation at least seems civil, and the pair of them riding alongside the man who will be their king in but a few hours seems a quite deliberate statement. Either way, the cheers rise to a near deafening level as Jaren comes into view, and while there is an element of bemused resignation to the smile he wears, he doesn’t fail to acknowledge the crowd occasionally lifting a gauntleted hand to wave towards onlookers on either side, and occasionally making brief eye contact with onlookers, particularly the children, whose enthusiasm at least provides a measure of less-resigned amusement.

Just behind that trio rides their squires, keeping close to the Knights they serve, as is proper, and beyond them rides Jaren’s sister Raelyn, along with a few Cassomir Knights as escorts, including her and Jaren’s cousin Sir Graham Cassomir. Behind them comes another cluster of family members, to include Lady Adrienne Cassomir, as well as several other cousins, both near and distant. A small contingent of Iron Guard march behind them in perfect formation, and with the “wedding party” attended to, it seems the rest of the parade is reserved for the more military aspects.

Leading that charge, much as they did at the Battle largely being honored today, are men of Normont, with Lord Aidric Carling out front as their surviving leader. Beside him, his squire holds both the reins of his own horse, and that of a riderless steed clad in the livery of House Gerrell…a not-at-all-subtle reminder of the sacrifice of Lord Paul Gerrell, who led the loyal men of Normont against the Thorn Insurgents throughout that campaign. If people might think it odd to see the banner of Normont flying so early in this parade, right alongside those of the Tracano, Haldis, and Greycen, it’s no real surprise to the crowds, as the stories of those loyal men who charged the Gates of Sunsreach has spread far-and-wide, at least within the city, and particular the story of how Lord Paul fell while reclaiming honor for his family name. Further, they are part of a much larger formation of men and women comprised entirely of veterans of that particular battle. Fighters from all the Duchies of Rivana are represented in that formation, though House Greycen bears the largest representation among that number. Not that it would be easy to tell exact numbers, as outside the Normonters in the front ranks, they are fully intermingled amongst each other rather than marching separately. Another image of unity…something that many are hoping becomes much more than simply appearance in days to come.

Following the veterans of Sunsreach rides the Greycen contingent. Led by Duke Rodrigo Greycen, who is flanked by his children Stephen and Katerine, it’s a relatively small body of soldiers (as are all the remaining groups…token forces for the parade…the rest of the armies are likely busy elsewhere, and a good chunk of forces makes up the “Veterans of Sunsreach” bloc). The Duke manages to smile and wave a few times, though he doesn’t look entirely comfortable in the saddle, or perhaps simply not with the parade in general. Or maybe he just didn’t like having to get up early to be part of things, but either way he puts on a pleasant enough face, and his children follow suit. The Greycen troops march behind them in their finely-polished armor and with considerable discipline, representing several different vassal houses of the Duchy of Seaguard.

Following the Greycen comes the Haldis, led by Lord Randall Haldis, the uncle of Duke Darren. He too offers the requisite smiles and waves, but while Rodrigo merely looked a bit uncomfortable, the keen observer would likely note that Randall’s very much putting on a front, as those smiles rarely seem to touch his eyes. Like their rivals the Greycens, the troops are in fine shape and perfect lock-step, though there’s a touch more “looseness” to it all than with the Greycens…perhaps a palpable sense of relief from these troops to be enjoying something so simple as a parade after the harrowing year the Duchy of Eastfield suffered. Marwyns and Havers and even a few Giraldi can be spotted within the ranks of those troops as they move down the avenue towards the Cathedral.

Bringing up the tail of the column is a token force from Normont, who if anything seem more rigid and unflinching than the other troops present, and that is reflected in the rather grim countenance of the Viscount Willard Carling who serves as their leader for this parade. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cheers of the crowd dim considerably for these folk of Normont who were NOT among the loyal warriors that fought at the Battle of Sunsreach. As the parade moves along, at least a few people attempt to throw rotten fruits or vegetables at the Viscount of the troops, but such individuals are quickly suppressed by the City Guard and perhaps thankfully none of the objects hit their mark. Still, the Viscount grits his teeth and soldiers on, despite his urge to hop off his horse and go run through the common rabble that dares such an affront upon his person. If nothing else, the Normonters retain their dignity, and the fact that they march in the parade at all speaks towards at least the appearance of healing rather than letting the divisions fester.

And so the column slowly makes its’ way across the city for near on two hours, generally to the roars of the crowds and a lot of hopeful smiles on the faces of the folk of the City (and the multitude of visitors that have come to bear witness). As they move through various checkpoints, they are again greeted by the fanfare of horns, always answered by another return call from further into the city. When they pass through the center of the city, where the tallest buildings outside some of the manses reside, they find themselves showered with rose petals from up above (and clearly someone’s been stockpiling for quite a while, given how much of them there are).

The final portion of the parade passes by a large set of stands that have been erected to play host to many of the visiting nobles of other lands. While certain honored guests already await within the Cathedral, the stands still manage to be filled with a fair number of Couvieri nobles, a smattering of Venderosi and Sanctumites, as well as a small, brightly-garbed swath of Alhazredi. For those familiar, at the bottom of the stands sit several Councilors of Pacitta, both High and Low. For once, though, it appears that the Chancellor was permitted to wait in the Cathedral, for he’s nowhere to be found.

The official parade route actually concludes a fair distance before the Cathedral proper, but the “wedding party” continues onward, followed after by several of the “troop leaders” once they’ve relinquished command of their marchers to deputies that they can disperse to the taverns and inns where many of them are staying (or some of the manses in the cases of nobles), though for some that will mean a long walk all the way back out of the city walls, where the inns are presently more affordable for a common soldier in the “outer wards” that surround Sunsreach on three sides.

As they enter the large courtyard that lay before the Cathedral at Sunsreach, they find it emptied, though Tracano House Guard are diligently keeping the crowds of onlookers confined to the outer edges of that courtyard. Jaren and those accompanying him pause at about the halfway point, and dismount, followed soon after by those that will be entering the Cathedral. Squires rush in to see to the Horses, though Jaren takes a moment to remove a bundle from the back of his saddle. Raelyn and Devlin move over near him as he removes the cloak he’d donned for the parade, and unrolls the bundle to reveal the wedding cloak he’ll be wearing inside. It’s an elaborate piece….the crest of House Cassomir prominent in the center, but surrounded with embroidered scenes of battle. For those with an eye for history and a familiarity with House Cassomir, they’ll recognize them as several of the famous engagements where the Cassomir distinguished themselves, often in sacrifice. The scenes are embroidered in chronological order starting at the upper right of the cloak, and working their way around back to the top-center, which appears to depict Jaren’s duel with the Grey Prince.

Devlin and Raelyn help affix the cloak around Jaren’s neck and shoulders, and then Raelyn somewhat spontaneously throws her arms around her elder brother and hugs him fiercely, before giving him a brief peck on each cheek. A few quiet words are shared between the siblings before the embrace is released with warm smiles on both faces, and Devlin steps forward to clasp Jaren’s forearm, leaning in for a more “manly” half-hug, but grinning all the while.

With the cloak properly in place, and with the other guests having discreetly filtered into the Cathedral to take their proper places while that matter was attended to, Jaren links his arm with Raelyn’s, and the pair starts towards the Cathedral entrance, with Devlin just a couple of steps behind. As they approach, they find the stairs that lead up to that entrance flanked on each side by a half-dozen Royal Lancers, who draw their blades and raise them in salute as the Queen’s Champion ascends the stairway with his family, and passes through the large double-doors that mark the entrance. Once that party has passed, the Lancers sheathe their blades, and file inside, save for two, who remain outside the doors as they are closed from within, signifying that the ceremony is ready to start. And yet despite that, the cheers of the crowds waiting outside take a few more minutes to die down, almost as though hoping they could be heard within. In either case, the momentous day has well and truly begun, and before long the crowds minds will turn towards the celebrations to come this evening.

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